Well world, I think it’s safe to say I’m a bit of a jet setter. Okay, so one weekend in Paris doesn’t exactly make me Posh Spice, but as Mrs. Faust used to tell us in freshman gym class, “If you had fun, you won!” Let me tell you, I had lots of fun. While I’m still not quite able to grasp the fact that I spent a weekend in Paris, I have photographic proof of it, so that should help it all sink in. Maybe I’ve spent too much time with my head in the clouds to really be able to appreciate the wonders of the world around me, but Paris certainly took my breath away, it really is out of this world. To put it into context, there are buildings in Paris that are older than America. For those of you back home and/or friends with me on Facebook, you’ve probably been spammed with my pictures of architecture, and France was no exception.
The trip started on a packed bus, with only six of us being from the USA. Now, I talked to some of you about how I really wanted to take the Chunnel, which is the train that travels beneath the English Channel to connect the United Kingdom and France. Let me tell you, and I’m sorry because I’m about to burst peoples’ bubbles, but it’s underwhelming, almost to the point of disappointing. Some of you may have already known this, but the Chunnel is set in bedrock. Do you know what that means? When you look out the windows of the train, you don’t see water or fish rushing by, it’s pitch black because it’s just rock. I did not know this going into the trip, so while it was cool, and at points claustrophobia-inducing, to think that I was in an underwater train, for the most part I just sat on the bus, feeling slightly un-exhilarated. A bus, you ask? I thought you took a train! Yes my dear friends and family, you read that right. The slightly mind-blowing part of this trip (Paris in general is mind-blowing, but that’s to be expected), was that the bus we took drove onto the train, which then went beneath the water. So I was on a bus, in a train, underwater. It’s like transportation-inception, and yes, it was kinda cool.
Anyways, you’re all probably wondering when I’m going to actually start talking about Paris. Well, you’re in luck, that part starts… Now. We arrived in the City of Lights at around eight a.m., and just like London, it was rainy. But that was quickly made up for when Le Arc de Triomphe came into view. Rain or shine, day or night, it is a sight for sore eyes. It was easily one of my favorite sites of the trip, beautiful enough to risk my life running across the crazy, uncontrolled roundabout that circles it (sorry family, you probably didn’t want t know this. No broken bones, I promise!). On top of that, we started our trip with a drive down Le Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Lafayette, Palais Garnier, and of course, the Eiffel Tower! Yes, it is everything you’ve imagined and more. For a while, all I could do was stare at it, craning my neck up in order to literally take it all in. Let me tell you, being a tall girl at 5’11”, there are very, very, few times when I feel small. So when I do feel small, I relish in it. It took my breath away, that feeling of being so tiny and insignificant in comparison to this structure that has stood the test of time, remaining to be an icon for the world.
Even with that amazing feeling, I have to admit, my favorite part of the trip was visiting the Notre Dame. It’s a pretty well-known fact that I am Catholic, and I’m not saying that if you’re not Catholic you can’t appreciate the Notre Dame, but being in such a historically rich and, well, opulent cathedral, was an experience I will never forget. There’s one fact about this trip that might help me explain just how my adventure through Notre Dame affected me: My camera was on the verge of dying by the time I stepped outside. That is how many pictures I took. The thing about the Notre Dame is that, it’s hard to explain, and for once, I’m at a loss for words. Yes, it is ridiculously opulent, I now understand why the French got in so much trouble, but at the same time, knowing how much history the place has seen, makes each step feel sacred. One of the best parts was being able to say an Our Father there. I think part of what made this so special is that England, yes, has a lot of amazing churches. But these churches are churches of England. They are not Catholic. There are some nice, old Catholic churches, but they’re not the same. They’re not held in such high esteem. France however, was predominantly Catholic for the majority of their history, and therefore have preserved their Catholic churches and relics with great respect. Not to mention I’m quite fond of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, as scary and scarring of a Disney movie as it is.
For the duration of two days in Paris, I walked a lot, saw a heck of a lot more, and was 100% amazed 100% of the time. The Louvre was unexpectedly ginormous, and Mona Lisa’s eyes followed me around the room. If I could, I’d love to go back to the museum one day, and just spend a few days really studying all the art it has to offer because it really is huge. It also has a McDonald’s, which is apparently controversial (which is completely understandable, nobody wants anyone getting ketchup on the latest Monet), but I can’t say I’m surprised. I also ate a surprising amount of Italian food, but it was delicious and my craving for pizza has only grown. No, I didn’t try escargot, but maybe that gives me an excuse to go back again.
Paris was amazing, it really was, but I couldn’t live there. For one thing, pigeons are everywhere and they aren’t afraid of humans (and if you know me, you know that’s a problem). I had a few more panic-induced moments than I would’ve preferred whilst I was there. Another thing is that Parisians really don’t like non-Parisians. It didn’t matter that one of my friends was fluent in French, people were still rude and snooty. While the English may be cold, they rarely treat you as if you are lesser than they are, and I prefer it that way. And when I thought the English smoke a lot (which they do), they have nothing on the French. I felt as if I were living in an ashtray, and let me tell you, it’s not the freshest of places. Overall, yes, Paris was amazing. That seems to be the only word I can think of, but it’s two a.m. here and Paris tends to leave people feeling at a loss for words. However, just like London, I wasn’t in total awe. In fact, I was quite happy to come “home,” by the end of the trip (long bus rides will do that to you).
Oh! Before I forget, I actually got to speak some Spanish on this trip! On the way back, we were sat between some young students from Chile, and let’s just say I got to brush up on my Spanish-speaking abilities. It was so much fun, I forgot how much I love speaking the language, and considering it’s been a couple years, I did pretty well. So long for now, my fellow world citizens, thanks for giving this extensive blog post a read!
Your semi-jet setter,